How Many Open Seats in Carrboro?

Speculation about Carrboro's upcoming elections deserves its own thread. The Chapel Hill News today reported that Alderman McDuffee would almost certainly not run again and Gist quite possibly not with Herrera unknown. That leaves at least one open alderman seat and possibly as many as three. We already know that Mike Nelson will step down so there may be a competitive race for mayor as well.

The News speculated about three possible non-incumbent candidates, all fairly well-known: Catherine DeVine, James Carnahan, and Randee Haven-O'Donnell. All three are advisory board veterans, DeVine more associated with the arts, Carnahan and Haven-O'Donnell with planning and the environment.

All three are to some extent status quo candidates within the Carrboro context. The News did not report on any Steve Rose or Jeff Vanke type challengers. Reporter Dave Hart did not indicate whether he beat the bushes and couldn't find any.

There has been speculation on whether Vanke might run for mayor again but it seems pretty clear that, if he wants to serve on the board rather than just make a statement, he should go for alderman instead.



Well, I guess my opening line is proved wrong. Even the Vankester has nothing to say for himself.

Dan, Taunt me a second time, work it will. (Excuse me while I mix my Monty Python and my Yoda.)

You seem to be implying I have no chance in the mayoral race. The last time you made such a prediction explicit, I took 41%, not on the ballot. A few more weeks of door-knocking, and I just might have showed enough people that I wasn't the dark force described by local rumor mills.

The effort behind that campaign was motivated to make a difference, not a statement. One can make a bigger difference from the throne (or whatever you call Nelson's special big chair) than from the other seats. (To those who revile me, did that last one raise your hackles? Where's your sense of humor? Not winning national elections for us, that's for sure.)

Alas, what I told Dave Hart is true. I am a full-time, stay-at-home father of two. (Think of Carrboro's cachet with such a mayor!) I am also a half-time online college instructor, which I do in the evenings. (Kaplan University is the real deal, unlike some others I could name but won't.) To be on the Board in any capacity for evening meetings, I'd have to give up income equivalent to the mayor's salary, which is 3x an alderman's. That rules out an alderman run. And to be mayor, I would have to make family sacrifices that I would rather not make. It's possible I won't run in any case, even if (gulp) Nelson ran unopposed. But I'd say there's a decent chance I'll at least camp out in Hillsborough at 11:45 on August 5, to make sure that doesn't happen.

Jeff, I'm sure you recall my previous acknowledgement of your "surprisingly strong write-in campaign" in 2003. My point is that it's usually (not always) easier to win one of three seats, some of which are open, than to go one of one. Consider going up against any of the possible challengers mentioned above vs going head-to-head with Mark Chilton. I know which I would choose.

That said, your reasons for preferring mayor are valid.

I sure hope John will run. He has had a great impact on the community in the most broad and diverse sense. I have known and respected him for a number of years now.

besides who's actually going to run for mayor or alderman, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing our fair city? what should these intrepid candidates focus on to get your vote?

Surely we think Jacquie Gist is in this race.

someone floated rob harwell's name to me last night. anyone heard about his plans?

i really trulty don't know if I will run again.16 years is a long time but on the other hand 20 is a nice round number.I love my town-next to my family it's the most important entity in my life.If it looks like Carrboro needs me another 4 years I'll run-if not I'll stay home to write and learn to cook again.

Always good to lift up one's head and look around, eh, Jacquie? As for 20 years being a "round number" ... you're right, but when I came up for air and realized I'd been married that long I felt like I'd just settled into good shoes and was ready to really start walking. Carrboro government without Gist? I can't imagine it. Surely you'd have to turn to political commentary to keep the community conversation lively. The Jacquie Gist show on WCOM?


Your print column today repeats your old trope about Carrboro's fortress in-towners vs. besieging suburbanites. It's not that simple. A lot of downtowners don't like recent developments, and on the other hand, one-third of Lake Hogan Farms voted against me in 2003, more than I (and you?) would have thought.

It is convenient spin to peg certain candidates as suburbanites (a kind of hateful term around these parts) infringing on downtowners' interests. But that's not very accurate or very laudable. I look forward to more nuanced analysis on Carrboro's campaign season, even while I anticipate local spin machines will crank up the rumor mills along exactly such fear-mongering lines about the barbarians at the gates.


Jeff, I will post my column on Monday so others can comment if interested. For now, let me just say that, of course, I don't think there are monolithic geographic voting blocks. I don't think my column says that. I consider my own neighborhood to be suburban and I don't think that disqualifies me from valuing the small town urbanist qualities of Carrboro.


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